Friday, November 4, 2011


When curiosity begins to itch at our awareness, our early response is to consult some oracle emblematic of our individual quirkiness.  These oracles are multifarious, ranging from reference books and web sites to tarot cards, shamans, yarrow sticks, and religious rituals. Depending on the degree of specificity we’re given, the itch has been scratched for the time being.  If the curiosity edges into the mysteries of human behavior, the oracle may also be one versed in the more scientific approaches to quantifying, even interpreting human behavior.

It is the rare person who has not consulted more than one of these oracles at some time during the life cycle, rarer still the person who has not sought some form of resolution or other in fermented spirits or some cactus, leaf, or mushroom-based product.

Given your frequent curiosity about your own behavior and the behavior of others, given your added curiosity about so-called Existential or Cosmic matters, you have removed yourself from the ranks of the rare person; you have had some dealing with nearly all the oracles referred to here, the most extreme being your belief that Kool cigarettes, when dipped in Jurgen’s lotion, then dried in the sun to the point where they would burn like a normal cigarette—is there such a thing as a normal cigarette?—would produce a psychedelic experience.  (They did not.  The most you got from that experience was an infatuation with the young woman who assured you this Kool cigarettes and Jurgen’s lotion path was, as she put it, a heavy path.  And you suspect you would have become infatuated with the young woman under most circumstances.)

Yet another oracle was proposed for your consideration.  This was a large glass of Pepsi-Cola into which had been introduced one drop of ammonia and one ounce of Jose Cuervo tequila.  You were fortunate to have emerged from this experience with nothing more notable than a fierce headache.  This was, at the time, a small price to pay.  At the time, you were gullible to the extreme in your thirst to have your curiosity quenched.  You wished to know the secrets of the Universe, the Cosmos.  You wished to achieve in whatever manner possible insights that would make you better able to deal with the glorious advances of puberty upon your body and the challenges of existence upon your mind.  You did learn to avoid mixed drinks.

You also learned that there was a greater probability of understanding to be achieved through the reading of fiction.  More so than history or theory or critical theory or, for that matter, any of the social sciences, you came to accept that there was a chance you might gain a better notion of your emerging selves by a close reading of fiction.  Trouble is, you did not yet know how to achieve close reading.  You were still not certain how to tell what the meaning was in the stories you read, much less in the stories you were writing by then.
Oracle by story is achieved by incessant reading.  Close reading is achieved by rereading what you have previously read.  Understanding the significance and code of outcome is achieved by incessant writing, followed by incessant rewriting of what you wrote earlier.

Outcome is a pure abstraction until you bring it into a personal focus for yourself, to the point where you experience the feelings of competitiveness and verbal combativeness with someone who has read the same thing you have read to the point of taking from it an outcome that does not jibe with your own assessment of the outcome.

By a commodious bend of logic, you have been implying here that outcome, whether in Reality of Story, places you at the perimeters and margins of your tribes and per groups. At first blush, this might seem a lonely, detached life, but it is no such thing; you have accorded yourself a prime vantage point from which to watch the parade, gathering momentum and dimension just down the road from you.  Instead of balloons, sparklers, or skyrockets, your pockets are stuffed with pens, note pads, electronic devices.

You are alert and prepared.

Here comes the parade.

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